Giving rural Oregon a boost

| Print |  Email
Opinion
Thursday, September 19, 2013

 

BY TIM MCCABE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

09.19.13 Blog RuralOregonThere are indeed real differences in both the challenges and opportunities faced by rural and urban regions of Oregon. Rural areas of the state have not seen the economic recovery that urban regions are experiencing. A critical function of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, is to use the tools, resources and expertise available to us to facilitate job growth in both rural and urban Oregon.

While commerce is certainly concentrated in urban areas, it is rural Oregon that has the urgent need. So I am proud that while 25% of the state’s population resides in rural Oregon, approximately half or our work is happening in partnership with rural companies.

Since 2007, looking at our finance programs, 54% of the loan and loan guarantee funds were used for rural Oregon projects. Our work with community banks to make more capital available to rural businesses was particularly critical during the recession.

In addition, the flexible Strategic Reserve Fund, which is often used to provide forgivable loans tied to job retention and creation, actually has the same distribution with 54% of SRF projects happening in rural Oregon over the same period. This program is often employed when a project has a unique need with no other resource available to fit that need. For instance, SRF was used to help Shimadzu Manufacturing expand its Canby facility creating 50 new jobs instead of expanding in Asia. But it was also utilized to help a small oyster larvae operation - Whiskey Creek Oysters - solve a pH water problem that threatened the entire oyster farming industry along Oregon’s Pacific coast.

On another important front, Business Oregon’s export assistance has helped 120 Oregon small businesses from all over the state find overseas customers for their products. These trade show appearances, aided by small $3,000 to $5,000 grants, is helping these companies realize $28 million in new revenue from a $483,000 state investment in matching grants since 2012.

Taking a step back and looking at Oregon’s overall economic development strategy: it’s the role of state government at the top level to deliver core services that increase economic opportunities for all Oregonians: such as health care, education and infrastructure development.

At the next level, we drive economic growth in specific key industries. Currently, Business Oregon focuses on advanced manufacturing, outdoor gear and active wear, clean technology, forestry and wood products and high technology. Our approach allows us to engage with partners in both urban and rural areas to try to grow these industries in which Oregon holds global competitive advantages.

We work on regional initiatives employing innovation strategies, often through the Oregon Innovation Council, to develop a robust food processing cluster in southern Oregon or an advanced manufacturing hub in the Columbia Gorge. We employ our expertise regarding entrepreneurial initiative or workforce development or our ability to certify lands for industrial development to spur job growth statewide.

Then at ground level, Business Oregon’s team of business development and finance experts work directly with Oregon companies, most of them with fewer than 50 employees, to help match their business needs with the resources at our disposal: access to capital, export assistance, tax incentives, business consulting and innovative solutions. Our people can serve as a single contact for a broad range of business services, for both programs we administer, as well as those existing elsewhere with our partners. We can make those connections and identify solutions.

In addition, we also “answer the door” when companies come knocking to look at expansion in Oregon. We pro-actively pitch the state in a targeted way both throughout the U.S. and overseas. We promote trade relationships in foreign countries, and look for opportunities for collaboration.

Our mission is clear and pronounced: help as many Oregon companies as is possible, both rural and urban, to create and retain as many jobs as they can for Oregonians.

Tim McCabe is the Director of Business Oregon.

 

More Articles

Hot Topics/Cool Talks recap

Linda Baker
Friday, April 24, 2015
htctthumbBY LINDA BAKER

A recap of "Tech in Transit: Will Portland Build the Next Uber?"


Read more...

City announces plans for Portland summer-league baseball team

News
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
IMG 3888BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Baseball is returning to Portland and city officials are hoping economic opportunity comes with it.


Read more...

Game On

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

Can small be large?

Linda Baker
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
040115-lindablogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS